California pays for years-old chiropractic board whistleblower case

07/18/2014 1:50 PM

07/18/2014 11:27 PM

Four years after a Sacramento jury found a Board of Chiropractic Examiners supervisor liable in retaliating against an employee and more than a decade after the case first went to court, Gov. Jerry Brown announced Friday he has signed legislation authorizing payment of a $2.7 million judgment in the matter.

Former chiropractic board office assistant Carole Arbuckle claimed in a whistle-blower lawsuit in 2003 that she was demoted and pushed from her job from reporting a chiropractic license had lapsed on a former board member.

The 3rd District Court of Appeal initially barred Arbuckle from suing under the California Whistleblower Protection Act, saying she failed to exhaust her administrative and judicial remedies. But the California Supreme Court reversed the lower court’s decision in 2009, reviving the case.

The following year, a Sacramento jury sided with Arbuckle. Finding that her boss, Kim Smith, acted with malice, a Sacramento Superior Court jury awarded Arbuckle about $1.2 million in economic and non-economic damages and $7,500 in punitive damages. According to a legislative analysis, the state was later ordered to pay more than $900,000 in attorney fees, plus costs and interest.

The legislation signed Friday resolving the case was a formality, one of several bills signed annually for legal settlements.

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